Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Special Report: August 20, 2013: Anonymous Autistic Disability Hate Mail

Please note: the text in blue was edited the same day it was posted, to make it more clear to read and understand.  In addition, you can read the update I posted, as requested by a friend right here.

Thanks, the flanoor.

The Background

By now, everyone will have heard of the hate mail that one mother got about her autistic son.  This anonymous letter outlines how hateful some people can be toward those with disabilities.  Yet this letter is anonymous: the writer had no courage to put their name to it.  That cowardice is unfortunately the sort of thing that will encourage others to do the same, or worse, potentially act on the vitriol in the hate mail.
This letter is an example of what Katharine Quarmby calls disability hate crime in her book Scapegoat: Why We are Failing Disabled People.  I want to present my thoughts here, but I am going to offer first my sympathy and support to Max and his family; this is a hateful thing to have happen.  Next, I am going to say that I have challenges myself and have faced prejudice in the same way, although not with the same force.  As well, I hope that this person is socially isolated for what they said.  No-one has the right to say something like what is in this letter, which is reprinted below.

I saw this story break on Canada.com through my facebook feed on August 19, 2013.  I could not believe what I was reading, and then I saw on the news feeds about rumours of this letter.

The basic story is this: a grandmother got an anonymous letter in her door about her grandson, who, according to CITY-TV, spends two days a week at her place in the summer.  In addition, her grandson is severely autistic to the point that he needs constant attention.  From what I saw on the news report, he was vocal but not necessarily communicative.  He is also well-loved by his family.

It was clear that his mother, and family, cared about him deeply.  This is why it is so hateful that she should have to know about the following letter, anonymously delivered:  [I have tried to replicate the number of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]  This is the letter:

The Letter

To the lady living at this address:

I also live in this neighbourhood and have a problem!!!!  You have a kid that is mentally handicapped and you consciously decided that it would be a good idea to live in a close proximity neighbourhood like this????  You selfishly put your kid outside everyday and let him be a nothing but a nuisance and a problem to everyone else with that noise polluting whaling he constantly makes!!!  That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL!!!!!!!!!!! It scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!!!!!  When you feel your idiot kid needs air, take him to our park you dope!!!  We have a nature trail!!!  Let him run around those places and make noise!!!!!! Crying babies , music, and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighbourhood!!!!!! He is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!

He is a nuisance to everyone and will always be that way!!!!!  Who the hell is going to care for him??????  No employer will hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him and you are not going to live forever!!  Personally they should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science.  What the hell else good is he to anyone!!!  You had a retarded kid, deal with it...properly!!!!!!  What right do you have to do this to hard working people!!!!!!!  I HATE people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are entitled to special treatment!!!! GOD!!!!!!!

Do everyone in our community huge a [sic] favour and MOVE!!!!! VAMOSE!!!!! SCRAM!!!!! Move away and get out of this type of neighbourhood setting!!! Go live in a trailer or something with your wild kid!!! Nobody wants you living here and they don't have the guts to tell you!!!!!!

Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we are ALL better off!!!


One pissed off mother!!!!!

My modest reply:

flanoor to one pissed off mother:

I'm sorry.  It must be difficult to live with such perfection that one different person is such a hurtful element in your life.  Peter Singer, the ethicist would agree with you.  He argues that anything that reduces our happiness is illegitimate, and therefore watching people suffer is not a good thing: those who cause us to watch people suffer should be eliminated.  [Koch, 2013]  Max is an autistic boy who is obviously treasured and well-looked after, and for you to think that this is so must be killing you, POM.

Yet, you may get your wish: there are those who argue that we don't need to keep the different alive or waste resources on them.  That should warm your heart.  To think that eventually, if some ethicists and right-to-die advocates have their way, you won't have to lie awake worrying if your apparently perfect children are going to catch crazy from your neighbourhood Boo Radley.

However, I have to take offense with your letter on several points of style.

First, too many exclamation points!!!  One would suffice!

Second, whaling should read wailing.

Third, dope is kind of a giveaway: that's an archaic term, I believe from, say the sixties?

Fourth, mentally handicapped is judgmental and also archaic.  The proper term is developmentally delayed, I think.

Fifth, "...let him be a nothing but a nuisance..."  The first a is redundant, unless you were going for be a nuisance.

Sixth, normal children?  Against your measure...hmm...I don't think so.

Seventh. Six was a cheap shot, sorry. Withdrawn.

Eighth, non retarded body parts?  What?  This needs re-writing...

Ninth, idiot kid, judgmental language.  And archaic.
Tenth, you should have expanded on the proper way to deal with a developmentally delayed kid.  although we can guess what you might say...

Eleventh, you write, "I HATE people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are entitled to special treatment!!!!"  Sounds like SOMEBODY has a skeleton or two in their closet...

Twelfth, "huge a favour" word order, please.

Thirteenth, VAMOSE...I believe that should be VAMOOSE, again, archaic.

And finally, fourteenth, "Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!!!!"  Well, now, that is happening in Holland under the Groningen Protocols.  As well, children who have delays are more likely to encounter violence and hardship.  I ought to know.  I am an Aspie.  And we are out there, and we are living our lives.  And we can do that without you around. Did you miss the irony of all those mistakes in your letter and you calling someone else an idiot?  I didn't...

I feel sorry for you, POM.  It must be hard seeing such imperfection day after day.  What must it be like, worrying about how inevitable it is that your perfect children will eventually slip and be human after all.  Who knows?  Maybe if your turn comes, they might decide to move...or euthanize you.  Of course, that's another cheap shot, isn't it?  And I truly hope that does not happen to you...

And by the way, some of my friends are parents of autistic children and I'd spend time with them any day of the week.

satirically, but with meaning, I remain, at your service, your humble flanoor


  1. WELL SAID. Every point written by that "person" was taken down and reduced to the trash it truly is. I pity this womans children/grandchildren if she accepts nothing but total perfection in her offspring.

    I too suffer from several challenges...not sure if I am an actual "aspie" or not, but after talking with you yesterday and looking it up, doing some research..whoa...I fit MANY of the characteristics. Then again, I may just be OCP (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) and be shouldering more anxiety issues than any one should have to deal with.

    THAT SAID...I deal with them. Everyone deserves to be accepted on their OWN terms. We're all doing the best we can do. I have good days and bad. My kids (adults) don't always understand...but guess what? Now my grandson has been diagnosed with severe depression and severe anxiety. That daughter listens to me a little more closely now as I tell her of my struggles.

    HOW DARE the writer of that letter define the child's communication as "whaling" or as you corrected "wailing". Some of these children are indeed incommunicative but we do NOT know what they can understand.

    What if he understands every ugly thing that was ever said it him? I'd be wailing too because I didn't have the bodily ability to either fight back or commit suicide.

    There are a couple high functioning Downs Syndrome patients who work productively as baggers at the store where I used to work. I suppose this woman would have them "put down" and disassembled for parts too? Erin remembered me at EVERY Christmas...we were never close by any means, but she knew my mother and every single year, she came over to the pharmacy with a Christmas card for just me. I've been retired almost 9 months, and when I see her, I'm greeted with a gigantic hug. Unfortunately, my mother, rest her soul, felt much the same way the author of this awful letter did and would not even ride a senior citizen bus because one of "them" might be on the bus. SHAME ON YOU, MOM!

    God puts every person, regardless of abilities or disabilities on this earth for a reason. I think perhaps whomever wrote that horrid letter should sit down and think about that. If she's ever caught, allow me to suggest community service in a home for the severely disabled. Maybe just maybe...she'd learn something from someone that isn't as perfect as I'm sure she thinks SHE is.

  2. PS...It offends me deeply that she included the "GOD!" remark. Who is she to think she's smarter than God...who put this child on this earth.

    Have no fear...even HER God will be sure she's appropriately dealt with. Karma...what goes around comes around...will get her. In this life, or the next.

  3. DonnaK thank you for your comments. It's clear you feel strongly about these issues. I feel sorry for this person who wrote the letter: a social coward and someone who needs some greater support. Thank you for posting. A.

  4. I also am horrified by the letter this woman wrote. I also have multiple disabilities and have worked with many autistic children and adults. Never would I have called them such names. The world would be a better place without your opinions POM. Why don't you come into the year 2013 and act not a responsible adult should. You never know what your future grandchildren might be born with a disability. Would you euthanize them?

  5. I am horrified with the POM. I have worked with many autistic children and adults and they are the sweetest people. The idea that a person in a community decides that it is mandatory that the grandmother euthanize her child is totally reprehensible to me. Too many people in today's society seem to feel that if you are not "perfect" then you don't fit and deserve to "die." POM, you should try to live a day in the life of a disabled person before making such recommendations.

  6. Thank you for your comments, I know that this has become a hot-button issue in Ontario. And coming on the heels of Kathleen Wynne's (provincial premiere) assertion that we need to 'talk' about end of life issues...scary...


  7. I don't understand why the ideology expressed in the letter should surprise anyone. I was upset after I had read the letter, not surprised. This is the same ideology that Margaret Sanger (the founder of Planned Parenthood) preached during the first half of the 20th century. She and her group (the American Eugenics Society) would regularily promote contests geared toward African American pastors. These contests would require them to promote the idea of "Eugenics" as it is could be linked to the bible. This is obviously a race based attempt to destroy part of the population. This is nothing new. It is disgusting, repulsive and purely evil. The author of the hate mail has adopted this hate filled religion of eugenics. It is sad but not uncommon.


Please feel free to comment; I might have a turnaround time to post!